Francesca Tanksley surprises. The internationally-acclaimed jazz pianist and composer, described as a "vivid presence" by Nat Hentoff, breaks through traditional expectations with the power of her musical vision. As Peter Watrous said in The New York Times in a review of one of her recent performances, "Ms. Tanksley reworked the vocabulary of McCoy Tyner as if she had taken just one small aspect of his style and developed it into a full language. She gave the music color, her harmonies and chording adding surprise to the performance." Acknowledged as a fine soloist, composer, and accompanist with such notable groups as the Billy Harper Quintet and the Erica Lindsay Quintet, she has performed throughout Europe, East and Southeast Asia, Scandinavia and South America as well as in the United States, and appears on numerous CD releases of both groups. Her compositional talent is featured on two of the Billy Harper Quintet's CDs, as well as on her own recently released CD.
Other leading musicians with whom Francesca Tanksley has performed include Howard Johnson, David Newman, Cecil Payne, Nick Brignola, Slide Hampton, Sheila Jordan, Jay Clayton, Clifford Jordan and Charles Davis. She has been a featured artist on Marian McPartland's widely acclaimed National Public Radio series, Piano Jazz, and appears in the documentary, Women In Jazz by Burrill Crohn. Ms. Tanksley has been noted in the books, American Women In Jazz by Sally Plaxin, and in Madam Jazz by Leslie Gourse.

In addition to being an acclaimed accompanist and composer, Ms. Tanksley also leads the Francesca Tanksley Trio, and has recently produced her first CD entitled Journey, which features her original compositions and includes colleagues from the Billy Harper Quintet, drummer Newman Taylor Baker and bassist Clarence Seay.

Francesca Tanksley was born in Italy as a U.S. citizen and grew up in Munich, Germany. She began studying piano at the age of seven, and at sixteen she attended Berklee College of Music in Boston to study jazz piano and composition. After her studies at Berklee she returned to Munich and began her professional career performing with various European jazz groups. She then moved to New York City and joined Melba Liston's group, Melba Liston & Co., appearing at major jazz clubs and festivals in the U.S., including the Kool Jazz Festival at Carnegie Hall with Dizzy Gillespie. Soon thereafter she became an integral member of the Billy Harper Quintet, as well as the Erica Lindsay Quintet.
Ms. Tanksley holds a Master's Degree in Music from Queens College, and is the recipient of the Graduating Master's Award, the Eubie Blake Scholarship Award and the ASCAP Louis Armstrong Composer's Scholarship Award, 1995. She has conducted jazz workshops at numerous colleges, including the University of Southern California at Santa Cruz, Hampton University, Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute, and Bard College. Ms. Tanksley serves as faculty at New School University’s Jazz and Contemporary Music Program in New York City.

Francesca Tanksley has played the following venues, among many others:

Carnegie Hall, Kool Jazz Festival, JVC Jazz Festival, New York - Iridium, New York - Sweet Basil, Detroit Jazz Festival, San Francisco Stern Grove Jazz Festival, Oakland - Yoshi’s , Delaware Jazz Festival, Baltimore Jazz In Cool Places, Atlanta Jazz Festival, Houston Jazz Festival, Chicago - The Green Mill, Lake George Jazz Festival, Woodstock FM Jazz Coalition, Philadelphia – The Painted Bride

Jazz Festivals/Clubs in Finland, Norway, Holland, Yugoslavia, Japan, Canada, Poland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland
U.S. State Department tours of South America and Southeast Asia


With the Francesca Tanksley Trio
Journey - DreamCaller Productions 2002, DC7168

With the Billy Harper Quintet

Soul Of An Angel – 2000 Metropolitan, MR1120
If Our Hearts Could Only See – 1997 DIW, 931
Somalia – 1994 Omagatoki, SC-7107
Live On Tour In The Far East, Volumes I, II, and III – Steeplechase, 1992 SCCD31311, 1993 SCCD 31321
Destiny Is Yours - 1990 Steeplechase, SCCD 31260

With the Erica Lindsay Quartet
Dreamer - 1989 Candid, CCD 79040

With the Blue Jade Trio
Night Songs – 1995 Alpha, ALCB 3070

Recorded Compositions:

"Dance In The Question" – Billy Harper - Destiny Is Yours, Live On Tour In The Far East, Vol. I
"Dear Earth", "United", "Prayer" - Tim Strong – Dear Earth: Tim Strong in New Zealand – Hart Records Corp.
"Earnestly, Tenderly," "In Grace," "Into the Light," "Journey Without Distance," "Never Defeated," "Prayer," "Simple Heart," "Trickster," "Dance In the Question" - Francesca Tanksley - Journey - DreamCaller Productions 2002, DC7168

For bookings and further information email:

Click Here to download Francesca's Bio and Resume in PDF Format for Printing

Click Here to download a hi-resolution photograph (right click to download)

Click Here to Read Review of "Journey" on

"A vivid presence" – Nat Hentoff, liner notes Dreamer/The Erica Lindsay Quintet

"Tanksley’s playing, as well as writing, has an engaging appeal based on an impressive matching of warm and cool." –Tom Pierce,

"Tanksley, like [McCoy] Tyner, also has a spiritual dimension to her work … a gentle eloquence that contrasts with … pulsating quality." – David Dupont, Cadence
"Ms. Tanksley reworked the vocabulary of McCoy Tyner as if she had taken just one small aspect of his style and developed it into a full language. She gave the music color, her harmonies and chording adding surprise to the performance." – Peter Watrous, The New York Times

"…rich in harmonic invention…." – Royal Stokes, Washington Post

"A revelation" – Tomas Conrad, CD Review

"A peerless pianist…an elegant and deft jazz improviser…." – Mikhail Horowitz, The Woodstock Times

"All eyes went to Francesca Tanksley [who is] proof that women are establishing a stronger and stronger presence on the jazz scene." – Roald Helgheim, festival puls [Norway]

"…like a tiger unleashed…." – Mario Hernando, Malaya [Philippines]

"Francesca Tanksley, who has been playing piano with Mr. Harper for more than 15 years, turns in a blistering performance on 'Thine Is The Glory' that just about makes me weep with joy." – customer’s review on

Billy Harper – contains Billy Harper’s CD’s, touring info, biography

The Billy Harper Fan Club – for special orders or inquiries, contact:
Helen J. Scott, President
P.O. Box 4539, Baltimore, Maryland 21212 (410) 467-4328

Newman Taylor Baker – contact: P.O. Box 20657, New York, NY 10009
(212) 614-0781, fax (212) 995-0943, e-mail:

Clarence L. Seay – contact:

Judy Bady –
contact: Original Woman Productions, P.O. Box 6306, Paterson, NJ 07509-6306, e-mail:

Erica Lindsay –

Susanna Romer Graphic Design - contact:

New School For Jazz and Contemporary Music - contains information about jazz faculty, curriculum, projects -
55 West 13th St, 5th Fl., New York, NY 10011 (212) 229-5896